The Green Bay Packers and third-round picks just don’t go together.
From Khyri Thornton to Amari Rodgers to Jace Sternberger to Kyler Fackrell, it’s hard to believe how many times the Packers have swung and missed in the third round of the draft. Four Packers third-rounders over the past decade didn’t even complete their rookie deals.
The last third-rounder to land a second contract in Green Bay? Morgan Burnett. The Packers drafted him in 2010.
Green Bay’s third-round woes have to end at some point, right? Well, the time may have finally arrived, and from an unlikely source.
Sean Rhyan’s rookie year couldn’t have gone any worse. His regular season ended on a six-game suspension, having only played one special teams snap. Rhyan was nowhere near the starting lineup despite the Packers’ long list of offensive line injuries.
It was more of the same this year. When Elgton Jenkins missed time due to injury, the Packers turned to veteran Royce Newman over Rhyan, despite Newman’s struggles last season and over the summer.
But that all changed in Week 9 against the Los Angeles Rams. Starting right guard Jon Runyan Jr. missed a drive due to injury, and the Packers finally gave Rhyan the first offensive snaps of his NFL career.
And he looked… good. Surprisingly good, in fact.
Rhyan was moving Rams defenders in the run game. He helped open up a huge rushing lane for AJ Dillon. On Aaron Jones’ touchdown run, Rhyan dominated his one-on-one rep, and it was against Aaron Donald.
“I was really proud of how he stepped in there. We had a bunch of productive plays, mainly on the ground,” said head coach Matt LaFleur. “But I thought he got a lot of good movement up front. He went in there and did his job at a high level.”
Despite only playing a handful of snaps, Rhyan looked comfortable. He won reps against Donald in his first offensive snaps in the NFL. And it’s not a coincidence that the Packers scored a touchdown on Rhyan’s only drive. They leaned heavily on the ground game, and Rhyan played his part.
The Packers may need Rhyan again on Sunday. Runyan is questionable due to a neck injury. If he is unable to go, one has to imagine Rhyan will be the next up at right guard based on his work last week.
Rhyan made an excellent first impression in Matt LaFleur’s offense, building off a solid training camp. It’s a small sample size, but Rhyan’s play stood out against the Rams. If he continues to play at that level, it won’t be long before he’s competing for a starting job.
Is Rhyan the player to finally end Green Bay’s third-round curse?